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What to eat during chemo

Posts: 10
Joined: May 2016

A friend who has recently finished radation for breast cancer told me that she was instructed to not eat fresh fruits or vegetables during chemo... only cooked, canned or frozen and only organic.  Have any of you had the same dietary restricitions?  I have not been told that but 1st chemo is not until this Friday.  Any hints about what foods to have available during chemo?  Many of the foods that have been suggested, like potatoes, bread, rice, and ice cream, I try to avoid.

CheeseQueen57's picture
Posts: 936
Joined: Feb 2016

Most cancer centers offer the services of a registered dietitian. I suggest you take advantage of that service. If they don't have one, call your insurance to see if they cover nutrition counselling for cancer treatment. To find a dietitian in your area go to eatright.org and use the Find A Dietitian service. Good luck!  I'm finding that altered taste perception is my biggest challenge. The other is preventing constipation. I think if you carefully wash raw fruits and vegetables, even the outsides of bananas and kiwis and don't buy precut fruits and vegetables there is les risk. 

Anonymous user (not verified)

My doctor didn't give me any restrictions (although I'd read that raw fish was out).  I ate watermelon and lots of salads, light soups, anything that tasted good.  Most meat did not, eggs did.  I think it's probably a personal taste thing for me.  I've not seen anyone suggest no raw fruits and vegetables though.  Hugs Nancy

Lou Ann M's picture
Lou Ann M
Posts: 996
Joined: Feb 2015

i did have restriction during radiation, but not chemo.  Radiation can cause severe diarrhe and my radiology oncologist suggested a very similar diet.  I called it the white on white diet.  That and Imodium kept me pretty good and I was able to work full time during my radiation treatments.  Chemo had no restriction, but there were a lot of things I lost all of my taste for

Editgrl's picture
Posts: 903
Joined: Jun 2015

At my chemo orientation, I asked specifically about raw fruits and vegetables.  They said as long as they were washed thoroughly, they were okay.  I ate a lot of soup, because it was easy to freeze and have available on the days when I didn't feel like cooking a whole meal.  I didn't have any food aversions, so I ate pretty much anything I wanted, except for really spicy foods.  I found that that caused heartburn, something I never had prior to chemo.  I snacked on Greek yogurt, juice bars, almonds and made a lot of high calorie smoothies. 

NoTimeForCancer's picture
Posts: 2888
Joined: Mar 2013

So funny how we are all told so many different things.  During chemo I was told only washed bag salad, I was not to clean my own lettuce.  I was not allowed mushrooms, green peppers, apples...I think it was skins that could possibly carry bacteria or e-coli.  Make sense.  I was told I was not allowed to work in a garden bed either because of the possible exposure.  

The year after I finished chemo?  I ate all the fresh fruits and vegetables I wanted - and I wanted.  

As suggested, ask if the cancer center has a dietician who specializes in helping cancer patients to talk to.  I learned a lot meeting with one myself.  After being told by my chemo nurse to "push the protein" I got a better sense from the dietician what that meant.

EZLiving66's picture
Posts: 1475
Joined: Oct 2015

I was told no buffet food, no uncooked/unpeeled veggies or fruit.  Also to be VERY careful with handling uncooked or undercooked meat and poultry.  After talking to the dietician she said to up the protein and whole grains.



Kvdyson's picture
Posts: 789
Joined: Jan 2016

Willjh, I think the gist is that the oncology nurses want to limit the bad bacteria that you might ingest since your body can't fight back as well during chemo. In addition to the foods that everyone else has already mentioned, I was also told not to eat sushi and to cook beef to medium-well or well done. Hope this helps and good luck on Friday! Kim

Posts: 10
Joined: May 2016

Thanks to everyone for all suggestions.  Yes, it is interesting that there is such varied restricitions, depending on practice. 

Soup52's picture
Posts: 906
Joined: Jan 2016

I restricted too much during radiation and had constipation as a result. Funny how some were told not to work in the garden as I do this daily with no problem. Really other than radiation I wasn't given a lot of restriction. I still have stomach issues though thanks to radiation .

Posts: 574
Joined: Feb 2013

I was not given a special diet, but I have read a number of posts on here where women have been told to up their protein.  I ate fresh fruits and veggies with no problems.  A friend took me out for Thai food after my first chemo visit.  I'd never had that before, and the spices definitely hurt my mouth.  I'm surprised that you were told to have canned foods, as the linings of most cans have BPA in them, which can cause cancer. 

At a survivor's dinner at the hospital where I had my surgery, a physician from the women's cancer care unit spoke about the "dirty dozen," which is a list of foods that you shouldn't eat, which gets revised every year.  You can google the list.  Strawberries were on it because the pesticides on strawberries can't be washed off, no matter how much you wash them, he said.  And that's probably true of the other foods on the list, too.  I was surprised to hear that a food I'd always thought was healthy was a carcinogen.    

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